Croatia´s capital is a vibrant city known for its museums, restaurants and nightlife. Zagreb is a great city to explore on foot, as everything is very close by.
The centre of Zagreb is divided in three parts: Gornji Grad (“Upper Town”), Donji Grad (“Lower Town”) and Novi Zagreb (“New Zagreb”).
The Upper Town is located at the foot of the Medvednica Mountains. It is about a thousand-years old and it is the oldest part of the city.
When Zagreb was just the Upper Town, it consisted of two settlements in two hills separated by a narrow canal. The bigger western part was mainly inhabited by merchants and farmers and was known as Gradec, and the smaller eastern part was mainly inhabited by a group of clergy and priests, and was known as Kaptol.
The Upper Town features some of the must-see landmarks: the Cathedral, St Mark’s Church, the Lotrscak tower, the Stone gate, Dolac market, St Catherine´s church, Ban Jelacic Square, Tkalčićeva street, the funicular and the Museum of Broken relationships.
This side of Zagreb is really interesting history wise, and in addition it has a nice romantic atmosphere. As the traffic in this area is limited, it never feels overcrowded.
The Lower Town, located in the south, dates to the 19th century. It is full of shops, restaurants, museums, cafes and parks.
New Zagreb is located across the River Sava and is a bit further south. This part is usually not very attractive for tourists but is worth a visit if you have enough time.
ZAGREBACKA KATEDRALA / ZAGREB CATHEDRAL
This Catholic Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia. Its twin neo-Gothic spires can be seen from many areas in the city. In the past it was known as St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and it is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and to kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus. It was built in the 13th century in Romanesque-Gothic style. The Cathedral was terribly damaged in an earthquake in 1880, destroying the dome and the bell tower completely. It was renovated afterwards, so most of the structure dates from the late 19th century or early 20th century, although there are parts that date from the 13th century and after. Inside the Cathedral you will find a sculpture of the Cardinal Stepinac (who was Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 to 1960) created by Croatia’s most celebrated sculptor, Ivan Meštrović.
CRKVA SVETOG MARKA / ST MARK´S CHURCH
This church is recognizable by its coloured tiles adorning the roof featuring the Coat of Arms of Zagreb (white castle on red background) and
St Mark´s Church was constructed in the 13th century.
It has been renovated several times, but there are still some remains of the original design, such as a Gothic doorway and a Romanesque window.
Inside the church you will see sculptures by Ivan Mestrovic and frescoes painted by Jozo Kljakovic.
KULA LOTRSCAK / LOTRSCAK TOWER
The Tower of Lotrscak, which was built in the 13th century, is a fortification tower that was built to protect Gradec’s southern town wall.
In the past, the tower had some bells that were ringing at night at the closing time of the gates. If people were left outside once the gates were closed, they had to wait there until the next day.
In the 19th century, a fourth floor and a canon were added to the tower.
Nowadays, every day at noon a cannon is fired from the Lotrscak Tower. It is called the Gric cannon.
TIP: If you want to have great views of Zagreb, climb up the tower and enjoy the stunning views of the city.
KAMENITA VRATA / STONE GATE
The Stone Gate is the only Upper Town gate that survived out of the five gates that guarded Gradec. It dates back to 13th century.
The houses and the surroundings around were destroyed in 1731 by a fire but the Stone Gate which had a painting of the Virgin Mary miraculously was not damaged. In order to protect the painting, a chapel was constructed, where the painting is kept behind a metal enclosure. Nowadays, people go there to pray.
TRZNICA DOLAC / DOLAC MARKET
This colourful market is the most popular farmers market in Zagreb.
It is located behind the main square and it has two floors. Most of the stands sell local fruits and vegetables, but you will also find homemade food, seafood, meat, dairy products, flowers and souvenirs.
CHURCH OF ST. CATHERINE
This is the most beautiful baroque style church in Zagreb. It was built by Jesuits in the early 17th century.
Beside the church there was a monastery that nowadays is the gallery of Klovicevi. A big part of the church was burnt in 1645 and 1674, but it was restored with the help of Croatian nobles, who could place the family´s coats of arms or bury a relative in the church in return. There are other gifts from the nobility inside the church.
This church is known for its stucco decorations, the five Baroque altars from XVII century, and the marble altar from 1729.
TRG BANA JELACICA / BAN JELACIC SQUARE
This is the main square in the city. In the middle, there is a bronze statue of Ban Jelacic from the 19th-century which symbolizes Croatia’s battle for independence.
You will also see a small fountain in the square called Mandusevac Fountain, which has a bit different location to the original one. The original waters were coming from a creek from Medvednica mountain.
People named Petar Preradović square Cvjetni trg (Floral square) because of its flower stands. One of Zagreb´s landmarks are actually the flowers. This square is a great place to relax while having a coffee in one of its outdoor cafes.
USPINJACA / FUNICULAR RAILWAY
The Zagreb Uspinjaca is a funicular that connects the Upper and the Lower Town. It is the shortest funicular ride in the world, as the distance it covers is only 66 metres. It has been in use since 1890 and it runs every 10 minutes. It is made of two vehicles, where roughly 28 passengers fit in.
TIP: Reach the top and enjoy the amazing views from promenade of Strossmayerovo Setaliste.
Zagreb is the city of the museums. It is said it has the biggest number of museums per square meter.
One of the most unusual museums to visit is the Museum of Broken Relationships, located at Sv Cirilac Metoda 2 in the Old Town.
It is about tales of break ups and stories of many relationships from around the world. You will also see personal things related to those relationships that have been donated to the museum, such as cards, photos, a wedding dress, etc.
CAFES AND RESTAURANTS
- Zagreb 360º. For the best views of Zagreb and its surroundings, come here! Zagreb 360º is an observation deck and café located on the 16thfloor of the Zagreb Skyscraper (1A Ilica Street).
- Pivnica Mali Medo. It is a pub that belongs to Medvedgrad Brewery. They brew their own beers. Address: Ul. Ivana Tkalčića 36, 10000, Zagreb.
- Tolkien´s House:If you like beer, this pub is a good choice as they have a great selection. Address: Opatovina 49, 10000, Zagreb.